Executive Order 2020-26 and Remote Online Notarization in Arizona

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One of the many aspects of daily life that has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic is the ability to comply with statutory requirements as they relate to notarization and recording. In order to have a signature or document notarized, a person must “personally appear before or be in the presence of” a notary public—a concept that simply does not jive with social distancing.

Arizona has previously passed Senate Bill 1030, which authorized Arizona notaries to perform remote online notarizations, effective June 30, 2020. Now, by recent Executive Order 2020-26, “Remote Online Notarization,” issued by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on April 8, 2020, remote online notarization may be used in Arizona, effective as of April 10, 2020.

How do I apply to become a remote online notary?

As of April 10, 2020, Arizona notaries can now apply to become a remote online notary. In order to apply, you must already be a current, active notary public in Arizona. You must also review both the Remote Online Notary Rules and the Electronic Notary Rules. Additionally, you will be required to contract with a vendor that provides the technology that you intend to use to perform the remote notarizations. The remote online notary application requires you to describe the technology you plan to use and to provide the name and web address for the supplying vendor. The link to begin the application process is on the Secretary of State’s website.

The Secretary of State will notify the applicant within 45 days of receipt of their application whether or not the notary is approved. If approved, the notary will receive a written authorization. If rejected, the Secretary of State will state the reasons for the rejection.

Following approval, if the notary later decides to use a different communication technology than the one specified in their application, the notary must submit an amendment stating same.

What technology vendor should I use?

You can use any vendor that meets the basic requirements set forth in the notary rules. While Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs maintains that she is not endorsing any particular vendors, she provides these vendors as examples:

According to the notary rules, the communication technology must provide for “synchronous audio-visual feeds of sufficient video resolution and audio clarity” to enable the notary and the remote individual to see and hear each other. The technology must also include a way for the notary to confirm that the electronic record they are viewing is the same electronic record that the remote individual is signing. The technology must also have certain security measures in place to prevent unauthorized access to 1) the audio-visual feed live transmission, 2) the identity verification method, and 3) the electronic record that the remote individual is signing.

The notary rules contain specific standards for the identity verification process, so it would be helpful if the communication technology has an automated software process that could aid the notary in verifying the identity of the remote individual.

The notary is required to keep an electronic journal chronicling the audio-visual recording, stored by an industry-standard file format, in a manner that protects against unauthorized access and that does not include any images of the notarized electronic record. Many of the technology vendors have a built-in system for this electronic journal.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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